Colombia’s Under-20 World Cup team looks to seal first place in Group A when they face South Korea in Bogota Friday at 8PM.
A win for Colombia tonight will give them a perfect record of nine points out of nine and first place in the section. The South Koreans, who are currently in second, hope for an opportunity in the knockout rounds.
With convincing wins over France and Mali, Colombia is already guaranteed a place in the next round of the U-20 World Cup. But they are still focused on the task at hand.
“We’re not playing the next round yet. We still have one game to go and we want to win the group so we can stay in Bogota. We’ve seen a lot of videos of [South Korea] and we’ve also analyzed the two games they’ve played here. They’re a strong side that works and fights hard for the whole 90 minutes. We’ll need to keep our wits about us,” Colombia coach Eduardo Lara explained.
The Colombians will also have to adapt to a new starting lineup. Santiago Arias, a key defender for the team, will not play tonight due to a calf injury.
The 19-year-old defender, who recently signed a $28 million contract with Portugal’s Sporting Lisbon, will be replaced by Juan David Diaz.
As for the South Koreans, they are aware that they will need to step up their performance if they hope to win tonight.
“We need to improve if we want to qualify, and though we want to win, we also know that a draw will virtually take us through, which is what we’re fighting for,” said South Korea’s coach Lee Kwang-Jong.
But Lee Kwang-Jong is also confident that his players ability to work together will provide an advantage in the upcoming match.
“I don’t think Colombia are that strong a footballing team, even though they will be at home. My boys really know how to play as a team, as you’ll see for yourselves. We’re looking to do better than in 2009, and we hope to make the semis,” said South Korea’s coach after the final draw in April.